With bowl games no longer an option for either team, both Miami and Boston College were playing on Friday afternoon for their seniors, their pride and their future.
At Boston College, the Eagles never quit this season, despite losing six of their first seven games. BC rallied in the second half of the season under coach Frank Spaziani and finished with a 3-2 record in the final five games, including Friday’s 24-17 win over the Canes. It was a gritty, disciplined performance on the road that was classic BC -- tough, hard-nosed, blue-collar football led by the defense.
For Miami, in many ways the game was a microcosm of the entire careers of the recruiting class of 2008: A disappointment that fell below expectations. Miami’s offense produced two big touchdown plays early, but then stuttered for the majority of the game. The running game wasn’t working, so the Canes turned to a short passing game, but third-and-long situations put Miami under pressure. Untimely penalties like the holding call on Harland Gunn early in the fourth quarter were devastating and came at points when Miami desperately needed a spark. Quarterback Jacory Harris threw four interceptions, and made poor throws and decisions down the stretch.
BC’s Chase Rettig, on the other hand, played tough and aggressive in the face of Miami’s pass rush. He made good decisions and threw the ball well. The Eagles also made great use of tight end Chris Pantale, and the running game opened things up in the play-action pass. This was the closest thing to a bowl game that Boston College will see this year, and the Eagles played like it.
Both programs, though, have lots of questions to answer this offseason. Al Golden’s recent contract extension went a long way in erasing the speculation surrounding his future, but the NCAA must still rule on the program’s future. Until it does, though, recruiting will remain the No. 1 priority.
BC must also find a way back to the postseason. Will the Eagles' determination down the stretch be enough to keep Spaziani in the good graces of AD Gene DeFilippo, or will another change be made? Was that the last spectacular collegiate performance for junior linebacker Luke Kuechly, a projected first-round draft pick?
It was a trying season for both programs and head coaches, but on Friday, BC found a way to finish on a positive note.